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Couple spearheads ecumenical outreach

July 18, 2014 | By Lori Szepelak

Rose and Mike Desrosiers of West Springfield are chairing two ecumenical outreach picnics this summer, open to the public, including one at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in West Springfield.
Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Good food and fellowship will be served up on the evening of July 24 at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church on Main Street, according to Rose and Mike Desrosiers, directors of the Ecumenical Outreach Group in town.

The group is an offshoot of the West Springfield Parish and Interfaith Association, which is comprised of members from the local Protestant and Roman Catholic churches that meet several times a year to provide ecumenical ministry in the community.

“Our picnics are great fellowship for all,” Rose Desrosiers said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

The Desrosiers encourage area residents to bring their lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the hot dogs, hamburgers, kielbasa, and corn on the cob, which will be prepared by the West Springfield Lions Club and served by a host of dedicated volunteers who relish the chance to give back to the community.

“The picnic is about people being with others,” Mike Desrosiers said.

The front lawn of the church will come alive with tables of food under a tent – including cold salads and watermelon for dessert – from 5 to 6 p.m. Iced tea and lemonade will also be available.

Members of the Lions Club will bring grills and cook all of the food on-site.

“We couldn’t conduct this event without our sponsors, the West Springfield Lions Club and the Big E Trust, as well as our volunteers,” Rose Desrosiers said.

The Desrosiers noted that the church, which is located in the Merrick section of town, is particularly appropriate for this type of event.

“The Merrick area is very multicultural and we enjoy seeing new faces each year,” Rose Desrosiers said.

Mike Desrosiers added, “This is the heart of where we need to be.”

For young people seeking community service projects, the Desrosiers welcome them to help at picnics, where they can interact with people of all ages.

When the Desrosiers aren’t working their full-time jobs – Rose as a teacher in the after school program at St. Thomas the Apostle School and Mike as a machinist at Kap Stone Container – they are writing and seeking grants from local organizations to continue the group’s ministries.

“We love the work we do and we appreciate our volunteers, our wonderful donors and the grants that make it all happen,” she said.

In addition to the July 24 event, an ecumenical outreach picnic is also slated for Aug. 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 20 Lathrop St. The church’s Mission Team and the Big E Trust will also sponsor ecumenical outreach suppers from 5 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 10 and 24.

Beginning in October and running through June 2015, the group will also sponsor ecumenical breakfasts on the second and last Saturdays of the month from 9 to 10 a.m., and dinners on the second Wednesday and last Wednesday of each month from 5 to 6 p.m. All meals will be served at the First Congregational Church and are free and open to the public.

Holidays are also a special time for the outreach group and include a festive Christmas Eve dinner.

“We serve ham and turkey with all of the sides,” Rose Desrosiers noted, adding that Santa Claus stops in and provides educational stockings for the children and a personal care package for homeless individuals. A take-out meals program for seniors is also available on Christmas Eve.

“We treat our neighbors with dignity and kindness,” she said.

With an average of close to 200 people attending many of their events, the mission is clearly alive and well.

For individuals, businesses or organizations interested in making donations or volunteering time to assist the outreach group, contact the Desrosiers at 413-734-9853.

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